A new study has revealed that marijuana users often develop prediabetes. A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota has concluded that people who consumed a large amount of the drug in their teens and 20s raise their chance of developing prediabetes by 40 percent (40%) when they reach middle age.
It’s important to note that the research team could not prove that marijuana users are also vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes, a metabolic condition that causes an individual’s blood sugar levels to be even more elevated, and often evolves from prediabetes.
Curiously enough, Ph.D. Michael Bancks, student from the University of Minnesota and lead author on the new study, offered a statement to Live Science saying that previous studies have found that individuals who use marijuana appear to have a lower diabetes rate, compared to individuals who don’t use the drug.
But Ph.D. Bancks noticed a problem with the way that other researchers approached these studies – they failed to be clear on whether people first started using marijuana, then developed diabetes, or whether people first developed diabetes, then started using marijuana.
He went on to add that he and his team “felt we could address the potential limitations of previous research and add new information to our understanding of the relationship between marijuana use and subsequent metabolic health”.
In the end, the conclusions of the new study contradicted the conclusions of earlier studies. But it’s worth mentioning that there was a question the new study did not manage to find an answer to – “it’s unclear how marijuana use could place an individual at increased risk for prediabetes, yet not diabetes”.
However, they still have a couple of theories as to why this happens. The first one says that the people who were likely to develop type 2 diabetes were simply excluded from the study. The reason is that study subjects that had type 2 diabetes when the follow-up period started were not allowed to take part in the project.
The second theory is that the drug may only be powerful enough to have an effect on the blood sugar levels relating to prediabetes, but not on the blood sugar levels relating to type 2 diabetes.
Ph.D. Bancks did not deny that researchers need to conduct more studies in this field in order to get a better sense of what’s going on. He believes future investigations should look at how different groups of individuals consume marijuana, and how much of the drug each of these groups consumes.
But the fact remains that, if nothing else, marijuana use still increases peoples’ chances of developing prediabetes. It is because of this that Ph.D. Bancks advises health professionals to have a talk with their patients and inform them of the potential risks of using marijuana.
He says that people have a right to know that marijuana increases their likelihood of developing prediabetes.
What’s more, he’d also like health professionals to start monitoring the blood sugar levels of individuals who have “an extensive history of marijuana use”.
Marijuana has only increased in popularity in recent years, but researchers still have a lot of questions about how the drug affects a person’s health. Some believe they’re right to worry as a study conducted in 2014 has linked marijuana use to cognitive impairment and psychoses.
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